Overview for building an Andbeauty e-business from ground up. We provide an overview of the planning, development and after support. Added customer feedback.
Technologies: PHP, TypeScript, MySQL, Elasticsearch, Redis
Integrations: ESTO, Klaviyo, Directo, Modena Buyplan
The biggest challenge Andbeauty faced was their existing e-commerce platform, which lacked functions and had inadequate customer service. They needed a more versatile, user-friendly, and robust solution to accommodate a growing portfolio of brands and products, especially since their goal was to become a leading beauty e-commerce platform in Estonia. Website audit revealed that it wasn’t feasible to build new solutions on the old website and it would have been too costly. Therefore, Opus and Andbeauty decided to build a completely new e-store from scratch. The Opus team assisted Andbeauty in planning several steps in advance. Based on customer needs, the development proceeded on Magento, Esto payment method was added to Modena’s payment solution, and processes and maintenance were simplified to reduce manual work. The old e-store was supported simultaneously with the development of the new website to ensure its continued operation and sales.
“Meile väga meeldis Opuse tööprotsessi korraldus. Koostöö algusest peale toimunud iganädalased koosolekud hoidsid kõiki osapooli alati protsesside ja uuendustega kursis. Kommunikatsioon oli kiire ning tõhus – keegi oli alati kõne või emaili kaugusel. Ja meid ei ole oma murede ja küsimustega üksi jäetud ka pärast e-poe üleandmist. Järelhooldus ja tugi olid meile sama olulised, kui e-poe ülesehitamine, et aidata kaasa meie eesmärgile kasvada üheks suurimaks e-kaubamajaks Eestis.”
Stiina Klementsov, Arendus- ja turundusjuht, Andbeauty e-kaubamaja.
From a small family business to one of the largest beauty e-stores in Estonia
Andbeauty is an Estonian family business with a passion for the beauty industry. A company that began 15 years ago importing just one brand now represents over 25 brands, serving various customers, beauty salons, and online shoppers. Like many other companies, the COVID-19 pandemic gave Andbeauty a significant boost. As a result of all the restrictions and closures during that time, bringing stores online was the only way to save their business. In spite of the fact that they had recently opened their online store, strategic decisions were needed during the pandemic. Besides importing several beauty brands, they also started focusing on reselling. Currently, their primary focus is the development and growth of the e-commerce platform. They already offer a selection of over 300 beauty brands, and this number continues to grow. Therefore, they needed to plan several steps ahead because their ambitions are high – to become one of the largest beauty e-commerce platforms in Estonia.
To achieve this goal, they needed to find a technical partner to take care of the technical side of things so they could focus on business growth. They did not want to invest heavily in an online store that could be written off a few years later if it were not continuously developed and maintained. It was crucial that the platform on which the new store was built be scalable, sustainable, and have a large developer community to ensure ongoing support and continuous improvement. Opus has over 7 years of experience in developing Magento e-commerce platforms, and it’s in their DNA to provide a support team, so trust was quickly established and collaboration began.
Opus adopted a systematic approach to help Andbeauty achieve its goals. The process involved careful analysis, prototyping, development, testing, and maintenance to get the new customer solution up and running as quickly as possible. Opus prioritised the client’s ability to quickly recoup their investments to avoid too much simultaneous spending. While the new site was being built, the old e-store had to be maintained and kept operational to ensure its functionality.
Simplifying e-commerce maintenance processes and enhancing user experience
One of the biggest challenges Andbeauty faced was making their e-commerce website trilingual. It was assumed that managing and configuring products in three languages across multiple pages would be incredibly complex and require a lot of work. According to Opus’s project manager Tanel Särgava, this is often the case for many e-commerce stores because the information can be uploaded in a way that is not very sufficient for systems like Directo and other ERP solutions. The information is not comprehensive and doesn’t get published on the e-commerce platform because crucial fields and links are missing on the product card. As a result, it was challenging to understand where and why specific problems existed. Fortunately, Opus had previous experience with Directo and knew how to address this issue. For instance, Andbeauty’s e-commerce store had an incomplete solution for variation products, and they had to manually assemble parent products and their variations on the Magento side. Automating this process made products visible in the online store with just a few clicks.
Fixing the backend and automating processes significantly saved time for the employees according to Andbeauty’s marketing manager. Previously, uploading a single product took more than ten minutes, but today she estimates it takes a minute.
Opus also addressed e-store’s user experience. Optimising checkout processes improved the convenience and speed of the customer journey. Opus’s experience has shown that customers are often discouraged by unnecessary steps, buttons, and overly long checkout processes. They should be as simple and quick as possible. Each step in the checkout should be a separate action to avoid overloading the user with unnecessary data fields. In addition, options to leave the checkout process should be limited by removing links that take the user out of the checkout view.
The company also implemented the new WCAG standards that will come into effect in 2025. These requirements mandate that all e-commerce stores and websites must address user experience and design in a way that makes information accessible to all users, including people with special needs. This includes disabilities such as blindness and visual impairment, deafness and hearing impairment, learning disabilities, cognitive limitations, physical disabilities, speech impairments, sensitivity to light, and combinations of these disabilities. Complying with these guidelines often makes web content more user-friendly in general.
Campaign-based business model
According to Stiina Klementsov, the marketing manager at Andbeauty, their e-store operates on a campaign-based business model, especially now when pricing sells. Therefore, it’s extremely important for them that setting up campaigns, adding new product groups, changing prices, adding discount solutions, and other related processes occur as smoothly as possible, and the online store would be able to withstand large campaigns like E-Monday. In the past, the online store was often down, and it was challenging to eliminate shortcomings. Today, changes and improvements are made in a way that customers don’t even notice. Opus’s support team assists with various configurations and provides guidance on how to run campaigns.
Among the developments to better manage campaigns was integration with the email marketing platform Klaviyo. This email solution is one of the most comprehensive on the market and is particularly suitable for e-commerce because it offers a wide range of features to grow e-business. When used correctly, creating various segment groups, different email flows and collecting leads, the potential for e-commerce growth is significant.
According to Klementsov, the majority of their requests and developments have been implemented. The proportion of sales generated by the online store has grown proportionally, now accounting for about 25% of a company’s total revenue. The goal for the new year is to focus on analytics and gather feedback on the customer experience. For example, one of the suggestions from Opus included an appearance of a small two-part form upon the customer’s return from the bank. This lets the customer rate their shopping experience and provide feedback.
Särgava points out that analytics and feedback from an end-user perspective are areas that e-commerce stores often neglect or simply don’t know how to utilise. However, this is essential information, and typically, the customer is usually the one who finds out about problems with an online store. The question is how to obtain this information from customers. This can be accomplished by using tools such as Klaviyo, which offer customised questionnaires, reminder emails, and other features. Särgava’s experience dispels the myth that Estonians are unwilling to provide feedback.